Court orders press release regarding Mason City officer-involved shooting be retracted after information improperly released

MASON CITY — A Cerro Gordo County District Court judge has issued an emergency protective order ordering that a press release regarding an officer-involved shooting of a Chicago man accused of murdering a Garner man in Mason City on October 3rd be retracted and removed from any websites or social media.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation last Wednesday issued a press release regarding the review of the shooting of 25-year-old Jelani Faulk by Mason City police officer Noah Friese. Winnebago County Attorney Kelsey Beenken reviewed the case on behalf of the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s office and issued an opinion last Tuesday that Friese’s actions were justified after Faulk allegedly did not follow orders to stop and get to the ground.

The officer-involved shooting happened moments after Faulk allegedly shot 35-year-old Christopher Tucker near the Happy Donkey bar near the intersection of State and Federal. Tucker died the next day after being taken to the Mayo Clinic hospitals in Rochester.

Faulk’s attorneys filed an emergency motion late last week, seeking a protective order concerning the DCI’s press release and the release of Beenken’s letter, contending that prosecutors, through its agents, have unnecessarily published information about the case that may not be accurate and is potentially harmful to Faulk’s right to a fair and impartial trial. Faulk’s attorneys concede that the information has now been made public and the court cannot enter unconstitutional orders which might restrain the press from publication.

District Judge Rustin Davenport in his ruling agreed that publicizing these matters by agents of the prosecutors is unnecessary and might potentially adversely affect the ability to select jurors who have no present inclination towards either party.

Davenport says Iowa rules provide that a prosecutor in a criminal case shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees, or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making extrajudicial statements that would be prohibited under the rules.

Davenport ordered the DCI to remove their press release notice from their website along with the Winnebago County Attorney’s letter. He also ordered the DCI, Mason City Police Department and the Cerro Gordo and Winnebago County Attorneys’ offices not to produce the press release and letter and to remove any such release of information on any website or social media platform.

Faulk is due in court on Tuesday for his arraignment hearing on a charge of first-degree murder.